It’s only been three years since Liam O’Donnell unleashed the madness that was Beyond Skyline. The young director resurrected the series after penning the first entry, which while ending on a pretty mind bending cliffhanger, was met with a lukewarm reviews by both audiences and critics. Seven years later, determined to put his personal vision of the property on screen, Liam took back the reins and what we got was one of the most ludicrously ambitious fight films ever made. Beyond not only managed to redeem its predecessor, simply through association, but also spurned a franchise in its wake as fans eagerly awaited the next entry.
Skylin3s, which just had its north American premiere as the opening night film of the Other Worlds Film Festival takes place several years after the end of Beyond. A creeping pandemic is spreading across the globe affecting the newly freed alien ‘Pilots’, reverting them back to their feral, human hunting state. As the film begins, the plague is just hitting London, which also happens to be the home of one largest populations of ‘Pilots’ on earth. This has the government recruiting Rose (Lindsey Morgan), the alien hybrid we were introduced to in Beyond — who has the ability to utilize alien tech; to lead a mission to the alien’s home world to save our own. They hope to do this by retrieving a power source, that should fuel the government’s cure, only they happen to discover a chilling secret instead.
O’Donnell delivers a spectacular indie sci-fi epic that also has some very relevant underpinnings. This coupled with a cast that understands the weight of the material and how to sell the effects heavy set-pieces, is the recipe for another cult favorite. Leading the cast here is the exceptional Lindsey Morgan, who along with giving an emotionally charged performance as the alien princess tasked with saving humanity, also manages to kick plenty of ass in the process. Lindsey is paired here with Jonathan Howard, who’s probably more famous for his supporting work. But here he proves he’s got the chops to be a leading man, with not only for his romantic chemistry; but by adding some real depth and turmoil to the tough guy charged with guarding Rose.
Like all great genre, what makes Skylin3s more than the sum of its pop culture sensibilities and deep-cut references, is it’s got something its sincerely trying to say. It’s just absurdly entertaining in the process. With its engaging mix of humor and heart, the film digs into these themes of intolerance and racism while filtering them through the sci-fi spectrum to amplify its voice. It’s another big swing for O’Donnell, who here yet again hits it out of the park, cementing himself as a fresh new voice in science fiction — which is no easy feat. The only problem is, when he comes back to eventually resolve this film’s cliffhanger in the next installment, it’s going to be an even steeper climb, but one I think he’s more than capable of making.